The results of a new survey show that the vast majority of homeowners using smart meters change their habits to save energy, and want to continue using them.
The survey, by CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric and the Department of Energy, asked 500 homeowners about their experience using smart meters hooked up to in-home displays. Smart meters and related technology can give consumers real-time information about their home energy use, making it easier to identify and change habits that waste energy. CenterPoint Energy, which has installed about 1.5 million Itron smart meters and aims to equip all 2.2 million customers by next year, is one of many utilities around the U.S. employing the new technology.
Ultimately, smart meters, smart appliances and mobile apps could make it possible for people to reduce their energy use dramatically by managing electricity flow in real time, even remotely. It could even allow utlities to reduce electricity demand during peak demand times, like the hottest summer days, so that air conditioners are given priority over other appliances. For now, most homeowners who have experimented with smart meters simply see how much spending on electricity increases as they switch on or off various appliances and light fixtures.
Because buildings account for 40% of U.S. energy use, half of U.S. electricity is generated by burning coal, and burning coal produces prodigious amounts of air pollution, reducing electricity use at home is a big deal. Coal-fired power plants are the country's leading source of greenhouse gas and mercury emissions, as well as smog- and acid-rain forming pollutants.
The rollout of smart meters in some parts of the country has been controversial, with homeowners complaining about everything from inflated energy bills to potential health effects from electromagnetic radiation. (Neither concern holds much water, according to experts.) But the results of this survey suggest that the vast majority of people who have used smart meters are more than satisfied with them.
Here's a look at some of the results:
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